The Trump administration is urging the U.N. to remove any references to sexual and reproductive health from its COVID-19 humanitarian response plan.
In a letter to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, acting Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development John Barsa called on the U.N. to remain "focused on life-saving interventions" and not use the pandemic "as an opportunity to advance access to abortion as an 'essential service.'" He criticized the organization for putting sexual and reproductive health services "on the same level of importance as food-insecurity, essential health care, malnutrition, shelter, and sanitation," and made clear that the administration is "committed to the right to life."
As such, he asked the UN to "drop the provision of abortion as an essential component" from its plan, adding that "now is not the time to add unnecessary discord to the COVID-19 response."
This isn't the first time the Trump administration and the U.N. clashed on the subject of reproductive rights. Last year, the administration pushed the U.N. to remove "references to ... sexual and reproductive health and rights" from its documents, arguing that such language could "promote practices, like abortion."